Thirty million people flock to this tropical beach destination yearly to soak up the sun and unwind at fantastic resorts. But like any other popular tourist spot, there are potential pitfalls. With guidance from this resident, you’ll dodge vacation mistakes others fall for and have the getaway you’re planning for.
1. Falling for Fake Tour Operators
It’s essential to be aware of the risks associated with Cancun fake tour operators. These unlicensed operators often entice unsuspecting tourists with deals that seem too good to be true. Most of the time, you will find these fake tour operators in the streets of popular tourist destinations.
How To Avoid Them
Here are some tips on avoiding fake tours and ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience:
- Always book tours through reputable agencies or your hotel. Inquire at your hotel’s concierge desk for recommendations on trusted operators. Hotels often work with vetted tour companies to ensure guests have a positive experience.
- Do thorough online research before booking a tour. Check travelers’ reviews on reputable websites such as TripAdvisor or Yelp. Glowing testimonials from other tourists can be a good indicator of a genuine and trustworthy company.
- If a deal appears too good to be true, it probably is. Steer clear of offers that are significantly cheaper than what other operators are charging. An extremely low price can strongly indicate a scam or an unsafe excursion.
2. Overly Trusting Transportation
When exploring the beautiful city of Cancun, it’s crucial to understand the importance of being cautious when using taxis and public transportation. While these options are convenient, they require some safety precautions and knowledge to ensure a smooth and secure travel experience.
Avoiding Fake Taxi Scams
Fake taxi scams are a concern for tourists in Cancun. The key to avoiding such scams is only using clearly marked, official taxis and confirming the fare before starting your journey. To ensure a safe and stress-free ride, remember the following tips:
- Ask your hotel or a local for reputable taxi companies
- Take note of any taxi identification number or license plate
Staying Safe on Public Transportation
While public transport in Cancun is generally safe, staying alert and securing your belongings is essential, especially on crowded buses. This cautious approach will help you avoid potential theft or scams and add to your overall enjoyment of the city. To maintain your safety on Cancun’s buses and other public transport options, follow these suggestions:
- Keep your purse, backpack, or personal items in your lap or within sight at all times
- Be aware of your surroundings and keep a close eye on your belongings
- Avoid displaying expensive items such as smartphones, jewelry, or cameras
- Research bus routes and schedules ahead of time to minimize confusion
3. Underestimating Cancun Transportation Costs
One common error tourists make during their Cancun vacation is not considering the actual expenses involved with transportation. Cancun transportation costs can add up over a long weekend or week, from taxis to buses.
Here are some tips to help you avoid being overcharged and manage your transportation costs more effectively:
- Always confirm taxi fares to prevent surprise charges when arriving at your destination. Remember that taxi rates in Cancun can vary, and it’s crucial to negotiate a reasonable price before getting in a taxi.
- Utilize local buses, known as “colectivos,” for a more budget-friendly transit option. Colectivos are an inexpensive way to travel between popular areas in Cancun, such as the Hotel Zone and downtown Cancun. Just be prepared for potentially crowded conditions during peak hours.
- If you plan to visit nearby attractions such as Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or Isla Mujeres, research the most affordable transportation options. While renting a car may seem the easiest choice, don’t overlook other possibilities like shuttle services or ferries, which might be more cost-effective and enjoyable. ADO bus service can take you from the Airport to Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and the Cancun City Center.
4. Using Uber
There have been several incidents of violence and harassment between Uber and taxi drivers in Cancun. This is because even if Uber is now legally regulated in Cancun, taxi drivers feel threatened by the competition that, according to them, is illegal. As a result, there have been reports of taxi drivers blocking roads, attacking Uber drivers, and even threatening Uber passengers.
The US Embassy in Mexico has issued a travel advisory warning Americans about the risks of using Uber in Cancun. The advisory states that “there have been reports of violence and intimidation directed at Uber drivers and passengers by taxi unions in Cancun.” The embassy recommends that Americans “exercise caution when using Uber and be aware of their surroundings.”
5. Going to Cancun During Spring Break
American spring breakers typically go to Cancun from late February through April. The peak period is from March 5 to March 25, when the beaches, clubs, and streets are packed with young people from the United States and Canada.
What Will You Find in Cancun During This Popular Time
Here are some reasons why it is not a great idea to go to Cancun during spring break:
- Crowds: Cancun is already a popular tourist destination, becoming even more crowded during spring break. The beaches, clubs, and restaurants are packed, and getting around can be difficult.
- Prices: Flights, hotels, and other expenses increase during spring break. This is because demand is high, and businesses can charge more.
- Noise: Cancun is a lively city, but it can be especially noisy during spring break. The clubs and bars are open all night, and there is a lot of music and partying.
- Party atmosphere: Cancun is known for its party atmosphere, especially during spring break. If you want a relaxing vacation, this is not the time to go, as many come to Cancun to legally drink at a younger age. The streets are flooded with drunk people on the main avenues of Cancun, Mexico.
- Safety concerns: There have been some incidents of violence and harassment between spring breakers and residents. Spring breakers are often seen as disrespectful of local customs and culture. The worst part is that most of them are on the lookout for illegal substances.
Recommended Times of the Year to Go
If you want a more peaceful and affordable time to visit Cancun, I recommend going during the shoulder seasons (May-June and September-October) or the off-season (November-February). These are the times of year when the crowds are smaller, the prices are lower, and the weather is still good.
6. Going During Sargassum Seaweed Season
One common mistake vacationers make in Cancun is being unaware of the potential seasonal seaweed issue. Sargassum is a recent issue that Cancun has been facing; seaweed can significantly affect the Cancun beach conditions, particularly during certain times of the year. To avoid disappointment when visiting the beaches, it’s crucial to stay informed about the presence of Sargassum seaweed in Cancun’s waters.
When Sargassum seaweed appears along the shoreline, it can cause water clarity to decrease and may impact beach activities. This can damper the overall enjoyment of the ocean and beaches. To make the most of your Cancun vacation, staying updated on Sargassum seaweed forecasts and beach conditions is essential.
Does It Really Get That Bad?
Before booking your flight and hotel, I recommend that you Monitor official forecasts for Cancun beach conditions, which often include information about the presence of Sargassum seaweed.
There have even been some luxury hotels that closed temporarily due to extreme seaweed, like Ritz Carlton, which for a short time focused instead on its newest hotel, The Ritz Carlton Mexico City.
7. Not Understanding Timeshare Offers
Timeshare offers might seem enticing, but many tourists in Cancun don’t understand that by taking these offers, you are agreeing to an hours-long timeshare tour- some as long as a full day of your precious vacation time
. Stay informed and cautious when presented with these “too good to be true” opportunities. Knowing what to expect can help you resist the sales pitch and keep your vacation on track.
Understanding the Sales Tactics
It’s essential to understand the selling tactics used by timeshare salespeople. Here are some common tactics to watch out for:
- Free gifts or incentives: It’s common for timeshare salespeople to offer free gifts or vacation packages. Be wary of these offers, as the primary goal is to get you to attend a high-pressure Cancun timeshare presentation.
- Aggressive sales pitch: Some timeshare sellers use aggressive sales techniques, pressuring tourists into deciding on the spot or buying the limited-time offer.
The salesperson won’t tell you that you’ll be signing a legally binding contract that is hard to get out of. And that the same timeshare they are trying to sell you can be bought on the resale market from a current owner for 75% to 99% off.
8. Booking the Wrong Hotel
When you plan a getaway to Cancun, it’s vital to carefully assess the hotel’s location before making your reservation. Some hotels are more than an hour away from the city center, distancing you from the vibrant atmosphere of Cancun. To make sure your accommodation is precisely where you want to be, you can use Google Maps.
Whether you prefer Downtown Cancun, the Hotel Zone, or a beachfront setting, the map feature helps you make an informed decision vs what the hotel may be saying or showing on their website.
9. Eating at Tourist Trap Restaurants
While on vacation in Cancun, exploring the vibrant food scene beyond the typical resort fare is essential. From savory street tacos to fresh seafood, a wealth of local dishes is waiting for your indulgence. To experience the true essence of Cancun dining, you need to avoid tourist-trap restaurants and immerse yourself in authentic Mexican food.
It Won’t Be An Authentic Experience
Sticking to the familiar is tempting, but tourist-trap restaurants often offer overpriced and inauthentic experiences. These establishments cater to tourist preferences, serving popular but less genuine versions of Mexican cuisine. This type of dining may not provide you with an accurate or satisfying taste of the country’s culinary offerings.
If any person approaches you to recommend you visit a restaurant or offer you a fantastic price for having lunch or dinner at their restaurant, most of the time, these places tend to be tourist traps.
10. Paying in US Dollars
When planning a trip to Cancun, research the best way to exchange your money before you go. Many reputable companies offer excellent exchange rates and fees. By doing your research, you can be sure that you are getting the best possible deal on your vacation vs the most convenient option.
Most businesses will try to take advantage of tourists by pricing their goods and services in US dollars. This is especially common in countries where the local currency is less strong than the US dollar. In these cases, it is essential to remember that you should pay in the local currency. Otherwise, you will pay more than you should and lose a lot of money.
30 of the Best Things To Do In Cancun (from Someone Who Lives in Mexico)
Besides beautiful beaches, the Cancun region has impressive Mayan archaeological sites, cenotes, eco-tourist parks, and delicious food. Some say that Cancun is the most important tourist destination in the area as it serves as the convenient entrance to the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula.
15 Cancun All-Inclusive Resorts Perfect for a Last Minute Getaway
With over 120 flights from American to Cancun everyday, plus a whole host of fantastic all-inclusive resorts, this Mexico destination is a long-time favorite. Here are 15 all-inclusive resorts the whole family can enjoy in Cancun this winter.
Mayakoba Mexico: The Resort and Golf Course So Superb It Was LIV Golf’s 2nd Season Opening Tournament Spot
Mayakoba, Mexico, a 620-acre luxury oceanfront resort and residential eco-destination in Riviera Maya and its acclaimed golf course, El Camaleón, was the first stop of LIV Golf’s second season. It’s the league’s first-ever tournament in Latin America.
Located 45 minutes south of Cancun and minutes from Playa del Carmen, it is one of the best resort communities in Mexico. Mayakoba consists of four luxury hotels: Andaz Mayakoba, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Fairmont Mayakoba, and Rosewood Mayakoba, as well as three collections of private residences, including Rosewood Residences Mayakoba, Fairmont Heritage Place Mayakoba, and The Reserve.